Taiwanese officials have announced that they are now considering proposals to extend military conscription beyond the current requirement of four months.
Speaking to local lawmakers on Wednesday, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said that the island nation is looking at extending military service, with a plan “definitely” set to advance this year.
Compulsory service for Taiwanese men between the ages of 18 and 36 was reduced by previous administrations from over two years to the current four months after tensions relaxed between Taipei and Beijing. Taiwan has also been slowly moving toward a volunteer-based military service.
“We must consider the enemy situation and our defensive operations in terms of military strength,” Chiu was quoted as saying.
The defense minister stated that changes can only be implemented at least one year after proposals are received.
Taiwan, which has over 215,000 members in its military, is also developing reservist training reforms and acquiring new weapons.
Lee Shih-chiang, head of the strategic planning department of Taiwan’s defense ministry, announced during the same session as Chiu that its first batch of U.S.-made MQ-9 Reaper drones will be operational for combat by 2025. This type of high-tech UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), which can operate at long range, can also be equipped with missiles.
On Wednesday, the Taiwanese presidential office released a statement noting that decisions by the defense ministry have yet to be finalized.
It further stated that the content used for military training must be revised to consider advances in modern warfare and also improve the armed force’s views on “asymmetric warfare,” a concept which focuses on making the island’s military “more mobile, agile and harder to attack.” This concept is part of the modernization plan that President Tsai Ing-wen has been promoting.
A civil war in 1949 caused a split between Taiwan and China. The Chinese government, along with much of the rest of the world, does not recognize Taiwan’s democratically elected government and its claims of sovereignty.